Top Obama Inaugural Collectibles

Superstar Will Smith got teary.

Ellen Malcolm, founder of Emily’s List called it “a proud moment in our nation’s history.”

Great Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown deemed it “inspirational.”

There were reports of millions of joyful people dancing in the streets from Bogotá to Naples to Shanghai to Chicago.

Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert slaughtered cows in honor of the occasion.

The Sun (UK) found one weeping German celebrant who said, “In my lifetime, the world’s people have never felt closer.”

Former South African President Nelson Mandela called the event “monumental.”

It “Unleashes a Flood of Hope Worldwide,” proclaimed a New York Times headline.

Obama’s historic inauguration

This is just a tip of the reaction to Barack Obama’s election as 44th president of the United States. On January 20, this man whose mother was a white woman from Kansas and father a black Kenyan will be sworn into office on the steps of the United States Capitol.

It estimated that anywhere from two to five million people will jam Washington, D.C., to witness history being made as the first African-American takes the presidential oath of office.

And without question, the inauguration will produce a raft of collectibles. The question for collectors is how to tell the difference between items that will only have sentimental or commemorative value and those that will be true historical keepsakes.

Luckily, there is a way to tell the difference.

New York Post day after election

New York Post day after election

The first rule of collectibles is if there are many of them, their value is reduced. When Barack Obama defeated John McCain, scores of newspapers trumpeted historic headlines, some are still being reprinted and sold as commemoratives. Because there are so many of them, their value will be limited. This will be also true for the scores of inaugural newspaper editions.

Conversely, if there are few items, their collectible value will be higher. Lead-crystal vases featuring an engraved inaugural seal from the best glassmakers in the world, for example, will continue as a long-term investment as a historical and highly prized collectible. The sticker price will reflect that, as well.

If you want a head start on long-term collectibles, buy things with the official seal of the 56th Presidential Inauguration Committee. (Some presidents have served more than one term and therefore, have had more than one inauguration.) These are items officially recognized by the only committee chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to oversee and pay for official inaugural events, such as the inaugural balls. Over time, these items, from specially designed pins by renowned artist Ann Hand to glassware, jewelry, posters and all manner of memorabilia, will be the items most collected, and they all will carry the official seal of the committee in their design.

Glass paperweight

Glass paperweight

Then there is the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies comprised of members from the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate who are responsible for the swearing-in ceremonies and the congressional luncheon. The official programs for these events, particularly the swearing-in, will have a clear long-term collectible value. In fact, it is safe to say that the programs for this transformational inaugural will be especially valuable over time.

Inaugural mug

Inaugural mug

There are other official inaugural items that will be highly sought after by collectors, such as the official inaugural badge. Since 1933, the two dozen or so official police units operating within the District of Columbia have issued specially created police badges for use during the inaugural period. The early ones are very rare, while the more recent ones continue to be highly valued. Press credentials, military items, signage, anything out of the ordinary such as the cardboard No Parking signs attached throughout the city are highly collectible long after the event, too.

“In my store, Political Americana, we are fortunate to have all kinds of inaugural souvenirs from a simple button, badge, lapel pin, tote bag, T-shirt and coffee mug to the official inaugural medal and glassware,” says Jim Warlick, owner of Political Americana and WorthPoint Worthologist for political items. “Our full-scale Oval Office will also provide you with the opportunity to have your picture taken behind a replica of the Oval Office desk the new president will use.”

Obama inaugural T-shirt

Obama inaugural T-shirt

Mary Brenneman, WorthPoint content director, sees significance in collectibles beyond their collecting value. “I find it fascinating that collectibles can serve as harbingers.”

She points out that Warlick predicted back in the spring of 2008 that Obama would win the election because his collectibles were outselling Hillary Clinton’s and John McCain’s combined.

So be you Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Independent, now’s the time to look to the future and search out Obama inauguration collectibles.

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